In an era of football where many high school and college teams seem more interested in putting up video-game like passing numbers, the Bishop Gorman Gaels do it the old fashioned way.
The Gaels (12-2), behind a large and physical offensive line anchored by senior center Zack Singer and senior tackle Nick Gates, used their power running game to run over Palo Verde, 45-7, in the Sunset Region championship game on Saturday afternoon at Fertitta Field.
The Gaels rushed for 383 yards, including 127 yards and two touchdowns by senior quarterback Randall Cunningham II. Junior tailback Russell Booze also scored twice while rushing for 55 yards while senior Daniel Stewart rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Even third-stringer Jonathan Shumaker got into the act with 81 yards.
“I didn’t know we were going to dominate that much but it was nice,” Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said.
(FIND GAME HIGHLIGHTS IN BARRY WONG’S VIDEO BELOW)
Most of the rushing yardage came on basic off tackle plays and zone read options by Cunningham. Nothing fancy. Here it is, come and stop it.
The Panthers, who looked worn out early in the second quarter by the physical Gorman line, tried but to no avail.
“That’s kind of been who we’ve been all year,” Sanchez said. “Randall does a good enough job in the air that you’ve got to play him honest (11-of-17, 109 yards). He did a phenomenal job with his feet. Up front, our guys just had a dominant performance on both sides of the ball.”
The Gael defense also wasn’t too shabby, holding the Panthers scoreless until the final 3:38 when quarterback Parker Rost connected with Calvin Beaulieu for a 40-yard touchdown pass against the Gaels’ second team defense. Palo Verde had managed just 102 yards before its final drive.
It was a big day for the Gorman secondary as well. Standout junior safety Nico Fertitta excelled against both the run and pass while cornerback Dylan Weldon had two interceptions and safety Armand Perry had one.
The Gaels now will play Reed (12-1), a 35-31 winner up north over Liberty, in the state Division I title game on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium.
“It feels great to be one step closer to our goal which is to win a fifth straight state championship,” Fertitta said.
“I feel like we really made a statement today with how we played,” Cunningham said. “Palo Verde is a great team with great coaches and they always play hard. Our coaches had a great game-plan today.”